Name This… Plant, Bird, Animal, Mountain!

Here is my experience of enriching the vocabulary with names of native plants, birds, and animals, along with the local mountain peak.  All to help me feel more connected to the new land and surroundings.

One of the areas that I noticed a lack of vocabulary was the flora and fauna of the new surroundings.  It was easy for me to describe the native plants, birds, and animals that would make up the backdrop of anything happening in my life back home.  But when I found myself in Colorado, I noticed that I just could not easily fill in the details. 

I remember looking at a bouquet of local flowers and realizing that I could not describe it.  Other than colors and similarities with flowers whose names were familiar to me, I felt a disconnect from the experience.  I later caught myself with a similar feeling, when I heard a bird singing and could not even imagine the bird to even describe it. 

So here are some tips on how you can add your own words into your experiences:

Look around

You will notice things that you have never seen before. Try to take note of them so that they become part of your vocabulary. For example, if you see an animal or flower that looks like something else, try describing what makes it different. If you find yourself struggling to name something, ask someone who knows about it.  Otherwise, use one of the apps listed below to help you identify the plants faster.

Use Google Images

There are many websites where you can search images by keyword. This way you don’t need to be able to identify every single species of plant or animal. Just look through pictures until you find one that resembles what you want to know more information about.

Ask questions

When you’re out hiking, stop and talk to people. They may be willing to share their knowledge with you. Or maybe there’s a park ranger nearby? Maybe he/she has been working in this area for years and can tell you all kinds of interesting facts about the place.

Write down everything

Take notes as soon as possible after each encounter. Don’t wait too long because then you might forget important details. Also, write down any ideas that come to mind while thinking about the topic. These thoughts might lead to other topics that you’d like to learn more about.

Keep learning

Here are 5 apps that I keep on my phone for reference, as I work on enriching my vocabulary and the sense of being connected to the details that surround me: 


PlantSnap – this is my trusty companion on every hike. It helps me keep track of all the new plants I come across. It has also been a lifesaver when we moved to a new house and I had to figure out all of the plants around our new garden.

a screenshot of the PlantSnap website; when clicked, it takes you to the website.


PictureThis – this is similar to the first app, but it’s more geared to house plants. They should add a counter of how many house plants survived thanks to their timely advice on care!

a screenshot of the PictureThis website; when clicked, it takes you to the website.


AllTrails – my favorite app to discover new trails!

a screenshot of the AllTrails website; when clicked, it takes you to the website.


PeakVisor – this is a gem if you are living in or visiting mountainous regions. You will be speaking about the peaks like a native in no time!

a screenshot of the PeakVisor website; when clicked, it takes you to the website.

Merlin Bird ID

Merlin Bird ID – a very informative app that will let you download info packs about various regions of the world.

a screenshot of the TheCornellLab Merlin website; when clicked, it takes you to the website.

I hope these tips and apps are helpful for your journey. I would love to know what you find helpful, as you figure out your own life in a new place.

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